Postmortem: First Game Jam

August 19, 2016

 

*Disclaimer: I started this post almost a week ago after completing my game jam and have been slowly adding to it over the week; thus, the post may be a little disjointed*

 

It is not often that I can say that I leveled up (yeah I know the phrase is beaten to death in the gaming community - get over it) but I truly feel like I did this past weekend. This past weekend I participated in my very first game jam and it was fucking awesome!

 

Going into the jam I was both excited and nervous. Excited because it was my first time and nervous because I didn't know what to expect. I was also nervous because it was a 72 hour game jam and I didn't know if I could create something in that amount of time, let alone program it. I know the whole purpose of game jams is to get you to create something, anything, and if you don't finish it in time then it's okay because you still worked on something you wouldn't have otherwise. That said, it was my first one and I really wanted to hit that deadline.

 

I knew before the game jam started that it was going to be a horror game. When it did start we were given the theme "unlikely evil" to put in the game: The antagonist had to be a character, object, or situation that is not normally considered evil. I spent the first couple of hours (jam started at 9pm Pacific time) working through possible ideas for the game. Ultimately, I settled on evil bunny slippers haha I prepped my Unity project and went to bed prepared to start fresh the next morning, or so I thought...

 

I woke up the next morning and realized that the scope of my game, however simple it may be, was too large to manage in a 72 hour time frame. I abandoned the bunny slipper idea and spent hours thinking of new ideas that would work. I ended up deciding on a point 'n' click game about "evil" junk food lol Well fast forward to the end of the first night and.....I realized this idea was also too large in scope. Epic fail. So I said, "Screw it,' and went back to my original day. In short, I wasted a whole day of the game jam figuring out what I should be doing.

 

So now I had my evil bunny slippers game and the only mechanic I knew was going to be in the game was to 'shuffle' your feet on the ground in an attempt to destroy the slippers the player is wearing. Genius, right (sarcasm)? I'm not going to take you on a step by step process of everything I did to create the game, but let me tell you it was a struggle. There were so many things I didn't know how to program for this game. Even things as simple as playing audio from multiple sources (if you have been following this blog/me you will know I'm still learning Unity/C#). I spent so much time figuring out code that I left myself with only 1-2 hours to do the assets for the game! So, naturally, I thought, "Hey, now would be the perfect time to attempt an art style I have never tried before!" So I attempted to create pixel art assets for the very first time! Let me tell you it is not easy. After 40 hours that felt like 100, I finally managed to finish my first game jam!

 

Despite all of the struggles I encountered, I learned SO much in during my first game jam. Now I know the next time I do a game jam I should: Pick an idea within the first hour or two and stick with it, prepare my Unity project ahead of time, and make sure all of the tools I'm using are ready to go. In regards to that last one in the list, I realized after the game jam that my pencil tool in Photoshop was painting at 3px instead of 1px, and as such my pixel art came out pretty bad haha

 

In the end the game jam was absolutely worth it. I learned a TON in a short 40 hours (time it took me to complete the game). The end product may not look pretty or play well, but through it's creation I definitely feel like I leveled up as an indie game developer. You can play Thomas and the Evil Bunny Slippers (yes, I purposely gave it a wonky title haha) for free here: https://heropower.itch.io/evilbunnyslippers If you don't know how itch.io works you just pick your platform you are on and download/install the game. The game is listed as free but gives you the option to donate before you download the game if you are feeling charitable and want to support me.

 

I would like to thank @themeatly for this game jam as well. If you haven't checked out his web comics you should as they hilariously, and accurately, portray the struggles of a life as an indie game dev: http://themeatly.com/ Also want to give a shout out to all of the other wonderful indie devs that participated in this game jam. You can see all of the games submitted for the jam here: http://gamejolt.com/search?q=meatlyjam

 

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